Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Atlantic Way Food Business Event

This aim of this event was to highlight new opportunities in food production, processing and tourism along Ireland’s west coast. It was held in Westpark Business Campus, Shannon last Thursday with speakers from Failte Ireland, Teagasc, local food businesses and Bullseye Food Marketing . Paddy Matthews from Failte Ireland spoke about the big drop in visitor numbers to the West coast over the last 10-15 years. Their response to this is The Wild Atlantic Way, a touring route from Donegal to West Cork.
Catherine Browne and Cepta Kennedy from Clonlara Country Market.

Loops off the main route to allow visitors experience more local and regional attractions are part of this project which is still at a very early stage.

Two local food businesses, Burren Smokehouse and White Sage Restaurant spoke of building on local and seasonal ingredients, and how important this was to their enterprises.

Stephen Alexander, Teagasc spoke on opportunities in localised horticultural businesses, now that oil supply will play a more critical role in the distribution of our food. There are currently just over 200 growers in Ireland, fifty of them growing almost 75% of the vegetables and fruit. There is only one commercial onion grower in the country, and from April to June we import all our fruit and vegetables.

Kieran O Connor of Bullseye Food Marketing on trends both here and abroad for 2012. Seasonal, local fresh ingredients, emphasis on the simple, pure and natural. In recession we become nostalgic for what we once had, people are now seeking comfort in going back to their roots, stews with cheaper cuts of meat, pies, puddings, its comfort all the way!
Over 65’s account for 11% of the Irish market, and are the most affluent segment, 25% of the Irish market is over the age of fifty. Target this market ( Grey Market)by offering health benefits, fresh, high fibre ,wholegrain, low salt. Sustainability is a factor, reducing our waste with less over packaging and more emphasis on fair trade.

I spoke to Una Phelan, Operations Executive of Atlantic Way Food about our markets and she has agreed to add them to their listings. Also any of these markets who have demonstrations or other upcoming events can let Una know and they will also be included in their Events Guide. Email Una -
Paddy Matthews Failte Ireland, Birgitte Hedin- Curtin Burren Smokehouse, Tony Schwarz White Sage Restaurant and Kieran O Connor Bullseye Food Marketing.

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